Persian Saffron Rice Pudding – Sholeh Zard

Sholeh Zard is a traditional Persian rice pudding made with basmati rice, sugar, saffron and rosewater. It is garnished with cinnamon, pistachios and almonds.

Persian Saffron Rice Pudding - Sholeh Zard by

I never thought much about having a favorite color until I had kids. All of a sudden there were favorites everywhere. Favorite foods. Favorite movies. Favorite books. Favorite colors. The first time one of my kids asked me my favorite color, I drew a blank. I loved my soft grey tshirts, but how boring is it to say you love the color grey? My children never changed their minds about their favorite colors. The Professor loves green. Middle Child adores blue. My Princess is all about pink. After a few years of self-realization and changing my mind, I finally settled on yellow. Yellow is a sunny day. Yellow is a sunflower. Yellow is a bowl full of lemons. Yellow is summer time. And of course, yellow is saffron!

Persian Saffron Rice Pudding - Sholeh Zard by

Although saffron threads are more orangish-red, and high quality saffron steeped in hot water produces the same deep orange color, add it to rice and you get this gorgeous, happy always-makes-me-smile-big yellow.

Persian Saffron Rice Pudding - Sholeh Zard by

Sholeh Zard is a Persian dessert made with white basmati rice, saffron, rosewater and sugar. It is a thick rice pudding that has the power to turn a room full of Persian adults into little kids, happily licking their spoons and bowls clean.

Persian Saffron Rice Pudding - Sholeh Zard by

Like many Persian dishes, it’s all about the garnishings and designs you make with the cinnamon, dried rose petals, almonds and pistachios.

Yellow, magenta and pistachio green – some of my favorite colors! Ooops! There I go again, I just can’t pick one favorite color!

Persian Saffron Rice Pudding (Sholeh-Zard)

This traditional Persian dessert is both fragrant and delicious. Flavored with saffron and rose water, decorated with cinnamom, almonds and pistachios, you will experience an exotic dessert from another place and time. Recipe by Laura Bashar of Family Spice


  • 1 1/2 cup basmati rice, uncooked
  • 8 cup water
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 tsp saffron, crushed
  • 2 TBS water, hot
  • 1/4 cup butter, unsalted, melted
  • 4 TBS almond slivers
  • 1 tsp cardamom, ground
  • 1/4 cup rose water
  • 1 tsp cinnamon, ground
  • 2 TBS pistachios, (optional)


  1. In a medium-sized bowl cover with water:
    • 1 1/2 cup basmati rice , uncooked
  2. Gently wash the rice by stirring the rice in the water with your hand. This helps wash some of the starch and grit out. Pour out the water and repeat two more times.
  3. Drain washed rice and place in a 5-quart non-stick pot with:
    • 8 cup water
    • 1/4 tsp salt
  4. Bring it to a boil, skimming the white foam from the surface as it forms.
  5. Cover and simmer over medium heat for 30 minutes or until rice is completely soft.
  6. Stir in:
    • 3 cup granulated sugar
  7. Cook for 20 more minutes, stirring constantly.
  8. While rice is cooking, combine in a small bowl and reserve:
    • 1/4 tsp saffron , crushed
    • 2 TBS water , hot
  9. After rice has cooked for 20 mins, add saffron and:
    • 1/4 cup butter, unsalted , melted
    • 2 TBS almond slivers
    • 1 tsp cardamom, ground
    • 1/4 cup rose water
  10. Cover and simmer on low heat for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally until mixture has thickened to a pudding.
  11. Pour saffron pudding into a shallow serving dish or spoon into individual serving bowls.
  12. Garnish with:
    • 1 tsp cinnamon, ground
    • 2 TBS almond slivers , (optional)
    • 2 TBS pistachios , (optional)
  13. Chill in refrigerator until set, about 2 hours.
  14. Serve cold.

Prep Time:

Yield: 16 servings

Cook Time:

Persian Saffron Rice Pudding (Sholeh-Zard) Detail

Persian Saffron Rice Pudding - Sholeh Zard by

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10 Responses to Persian Saffron Rice Pudding – Sholeh Zard

  1. This is beautiful, Laura, and I’m sure it tastes as good as it looks.

  2. I love your saffron recipes, and this pudding looks so tasty!

  3. So pleased to have found you via FB. This looks and sounds quite exquisite, which is just the kind of dessert I love!

  4. Eha at #

    Laura: shall use the very last of the saffron I received from you [yes, it is still good and have been keeping a few threads for something special!] to try this. Am not a ‘pudding girl’ but love rice and this sounds so good!

  5. What a gorgeous, gorgeous recipe Laura! I love the photographs… you’ve managed to capture vibrancy and softness at the same time. I definitely need to try this recipe. It sounds delicious. I am such a sucker for Middle Eastern/Persian food! xx

  6. Saffron is new ingredients to me but thanks to you and other food blogs, I started to use it more often. Here’s another great recipe that I would like to try with saffron!

  7. The colors of pistachios and saffron together are wonderful, and then there´s the flavors! This is the rice pudding of my dreams.

  8. I can imagine the taste of this rice pudding. Since I love rice puddings and saffron I am sure that I will love this. Gorgeous pictures, Laura and so very tasty!

  9. mjskit at #

    What a lovely rice pudding! I love the color and the texture. I’m sure this taste as wonderful as it looks.

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